Bombay has enveloped itself into so many myths that it took me a year to finally break them free. Often I would reprimand myself for not believing them. These myths & tales are not written anywhere, web implant they are perpetrated and spread by people living here, or those who would have visited the city sometime in its past.
Today, these are my observations:
a) Myth No 1 – Bombay’s autowallahs are sans nakhras – Nothing can be more far-fetched from truth. I had heard so much about these ‘good hardworking samaritans’ that the first time an auto-driver refused to go a short-distance, I was nearly heartbroken and extremely aghast.
Agreed they are a shade better than their Delhi counterparts. But to say they are symbols of hard-working virtue, is a folly. I have often stood helplessly (sometimes in rain) trying to convince rude and uncouth rickshaw-wallahs to cross the east to west side of supposedly the same area. On an average it took at least five-six rejections before one of them would obligingly relent.
Sorry, but as I experienced it, Bombay’s autowallahs are discourteous & disrepectful (and equally bad drivers).
b) Myth No 2 – Traffic moves in a straight line – Probably true to a small extent on the ‘town side’ (which to the uninitiated is the tip of the island city, starting from south of Bandra upto the sea). Elsewhere, the situation is no better than that of, say, Delhi. Worse, the tight roads(& lack of alternative routes) make the matters more unfavorable.
c) Myth No 3 – Bombay travels in trains – Again, partially true. The days when a CEO would prefer a public train to a private transport are long gone. I hate to sound condescending (or as Mumbai Mirror mentioned in an interesting article ‘class perceptions & snobbery in trains’) but fact is, there is a shift in demographics of those who travel by train. More and more people are switching over to their own vehicles. In my office, I am sure that after a certain heirarichal barrier, employees are avoiding train-travel.
Perhaps, that is also the reason for the increased choking of the traffic – which (given the habit to labelize and generalize here), the Bombayiites with casual grandness mention as ‘The Legendary Bombay Traffic’ – which, by the way, sadly is no myth!
d) Myth No 4 – Petty crimes like house-breaking & car-robbing don’t happen here – Oh yeah! I believed this till the time my house was burglared. Thankfully, I didn’t have much to lose (and it would surely have been a wasted day for the thief). But the incident forever shattered my image of ‘safe and secure Bombay’.
These were on top of mind recall. More will follow as and when I remember them.
Disclaimer – I have kept the post on a back-burner for sometime, lest someone feels I am being unduly picky about the city. No, it’s not that.
In fact, I quite love Bombay and chose to work here on my own accord. It wasn’t a compulsive official shift by any stretch of imagination. I came here by choice.
Also, I don’t really want to start of a Delhi vs Bombay debate, which often comes up. And frankly, both cities have their own plus points. It’s where you live the longest, you start appreciating the finer points, and also some amount of habit seeps in.
For those who know me, would appreciate I love discovering new cities, their nooks and corners; their quirks and idiosyncracies; their charms and attractiveness. So, this post is by no means a run-down of Bombay.
For those readers who loved and adored Dil To Pagal Hai‘s music (and I am one staunch fan), order here is a superb treat in store for you:
Yashraj Music recently released a collection of love duets which includes one hitherto unreleased song. Though, medicine on the jacket sleeve, they do not mention the film for which it was recorded, but one hear, and you know it for sure. The DTPH theme is there in the second interlude, and the tune of ‘Arre re arre’ in the second one.
The mukhda goes:
Kitni hai beqaraar yeh, chanda ki chandni
Kahti hai kar lo pyaar yeh, chanda ki chandni
(Singers – Lata Mangeshkar, Kumar Sanu; Music – Uttam Singh)
A close hear reveals the song to be the original for ‘Chaand ne kuchh kaha…pyaar kar’ (the track that comes on Valentine’s night, amidst bright red balloons). In fact, structurally both songs are similar, down to the interlude movements. Though, honestly, I was a bit surprised to find Kumar Sanu since all other songs of the film were rendered by Udit Narayan.
It is a delight to hear Lata Mangeshkar’s breezy rendition. She is splendid in the breezy track, that has some riveting beats and orchestration. In fact, it is an unparalleled happiness to obtain a fresh song from the diva. My excitement was so supreme that my hands trembled as I put on the CD.
This compilation is titled – ‘ Tum Paas Aa Rahe Ho ‘ (picked up from the ‘bonus’ song of Veer Zaara, which opens this CD) & contains 14 love songs. For more details on the album click here.
For the song’s television promo click here.
Now, if only other producers/music companies would loosen up all those unreleased Lata Mangeshkar numbers…starting, of course, with JP Dutta and his two recorded songs of the now-shelved Sarhad.
I am not a gadget freak – though when I get one I love to explore all its functions- but the point I want to make is that usually I don’t crave to own the new machine that hits the electronic store.
For months my mobile phone has been an object for derisive jokes amongst friends than one that Mr. Bell actually intended when he conceptualised the cell phone’s grandfather. One, treatment the instrument was considerably worn out, bronchitis and extremely old by tech-standards. I learnt recently that the hot model I had purchased three years back (in Nepal) was not only obsolete but also a discontinued series by the manufacturer. Two, it showed classic signs of old age – work at an excruciatingly painful pace and regularly go off into an amnesiatic dose, which in computer and mobile phone lingo is called ‘hanging’.
Despite the silly jokes I held on to that piece pretty loyally. That’s because I used it for my personal connection and I hardly get any calls on that number. On a rough estimate, I can confidently vouch the ratio of telemarketing calls to actual calls would be 80:20. So why pour money into buying an asset that would hardly justify its existence, especially in these tough recessionary times?
But that’s not the whole truth or the only reason. The main reason is that I didn’t find any set that would set my heart ringing and poke that immense craving.
So I continued with the old one, occasionally giving it mini makeovers – a new memory card, a fresh software and other such petty stuff. On the side, I would keep checking other people’s phones.
…till the moment I laid my eyes on Nokia E 71.
Ding dong. Boom. Flash. Lightening. Thunder.
The love magic began. And my hands itched and my heart craved and my mind laid a sumptuous buffet of impeccable reasoning to own the instrument.
Nokia E 71 is a fabulous business phone ( not that I am ever going to use it that way. It will still receive pesky telemarketeer calls) with an awesome array of features including a qwerty keyboard, easy internet and email facility and GPS.
I bought it day before yesterday on an ‘ easy installment scheme ‘ even though I fully understood that the rate charged is anything but easy.
I dread the coming month’s mobile bill as I have been constantly online taking in the eased internet option (as compared to the awfully primitive one on the previous one).
I am in the first flush of love, taking in the new and refreshing experience the phone has to offer. This will pass. But its fun while it lasts.
And yes, I wrote and published this post on my phone.
Like the film by a similar title (incidentally, endocrinologist a brilliant one on terrorism) Mumbai witnessed a terrifying Wednesday as ten of its most prominent locations came under terrorist seige.
Unlike the film, hepatitis this was for real. And it didn’t end on that day. Even as I type this, nearly thirty two hours later, the drama continues – which shows the thorough and shrewd planning and preparedness the attackers had.
My heart cries for the criminal waste of innocent lives, as it bleeds for the unnecessary desecration of Taj Hotel’s beauty.
Frankly, I am quite at loss for words and feelings. I had expressed my anguish over the Delhi blasts. The same anguish is manifold now.
When will this mayhem end?
And I don’t mean just this one particular operation. I mean this alarming regularity of terror attacks.
I had shot this picture sometime last year, unhealthy perhaps on my first visit to the monument since shifting to Mumbai. (Currently it is undergoing renovations)
Somehow, after all that has happened, it seems an apt picture to put up – of Mumbai’s most famous monument standing tall and proud, despite being witness to a brutally painful attack last week.
Yes, Mumbai is back to normal. As much as it can be.
Monday morning, epidemic and I was ready on time. Congratulating myself, order I sipped the orange juice contentedly while checking email on my mobile. I sat on a slender but comfortable cane chair, with my back to the window that opens onto the small and cute balcony, a rarity in Mumbai flats. Outside the week expanded out in its soothing routine- a raddiwala cycled past asking for old newspapers, a wife bade goodbye to her husband, a neighbor admonished the car-cleaner to wash his car first, hurried footsteps rattled down the stairs, a few birds chirped, a car honked, an auto stuttered, a couple of security guards chattered animatedly.
I glanced at my watch, exited the email menu and gulped the last of the juice. Getting up, I placed the mobile on my top pocket, picked up the empty glass and with my other free hand, I inserted the little finger in my left ear to clear an irritation I felt.
Everything faded into silence. Or rather smothered by a dreary drone. It took a few seconds to comprehend the full impact. My left ear seemed blocked as if someone had shoved in a huge ball of cotton. The right one was fine. I would have ignored it, but the blockage’s irritation swept aside any sense of patience. I understood what had happened- ear wax must have got pushed into the canal.
Hurriedly, I dropped the empty glass into the kitchen sink, grabbed the laptop, swooped on the car keys and rushed out of home.
There is a chemist shop right below my apartment building. It usually opens early but today for some strange reason grim shutters greeted me.
I ran to my car, with the irritating blocked ear heavily feeling like a lead earring. I knew of a 24 hour chemist shop half a kilometre away.
Not trusting the volume of my own voice, I whispered for ear buds.
Back in the car, I ripped open the box, and pulled out an ear bud, while quickly reading the warning and instructions on the wrapper.
The buds provided no relief. I had to see a doctor!
While swiftly typing a ‘ I will be late ‘ sms to my boss, I tried to recall where I had seen a signage of an ENT specialist. I couldn’t remember. I slowly drove down the road, taking in all the doctor boards, ignoring the irritated horns of irate drivers behind me, the upside being I couldn’t really hear them in full blast.
Lots of dentists, a few general practitioners, a couple of gynaecs, but I couldn’t find any ENT specialist.
I stopped at another chemist and asked for one. He gave the address of a doctor, not far off, but with the Metro construction on in full swing, and the traffic at its peak hour, it took me an arduous fifteen-minutes to reach. Only to be met by a cheerless receptionist, eating sprouted dal, sitting in an eerily empty office.
‘I wish to see the doctor,’ I said.
‘He’s not in. He will come at 11.30’ she replied with a more than obvious disinterest in her job. She wouldn’t care or bother if he never came.
My heart sank.
‘Is there any other ENT doctor nearby’
Clearly this didn’t go down well with her. Curtly she said, ‘Idea nahi hai’ and went back to her sprouted dal.
Dejected, I stepped out. Opposite, there was an obesity clinic, and an eager looking youngster viewed me hopefully. Sorry buddy, I’m not your client. Not yet, at least.
Thereafter, for next one hour, my search for a suitable doctor began. Actually, not suitable. Any doctor.
Downed shutters and similar looking dour receptionists gave me similar answers.
What the hell??!? Don’t doctors wake up early here? Are they like just any other businessmen opening their shops at a leisurely pace. Mine was a small problem, but what if I had a genuinely serious emergency? I would have been dead by the time I found a medico in his shop…err, clinic. And it wasn’t that early either. It was nearing 10.30, dammit. And surely, dentist and cosmetic dentistry is damn lucrative business seeing the number of available clinics in this supposedly posh colony. I reckon, the rich have their own set of diseases. And convenient timings when they get afflicted.
Angry and frustrated, I started for office, with the faint hope of stopping en route at a newly inaugurated (by Amitabh Bachchan, no less) multi-speciality hospital and finding an ENT surgeon there at least. If not, any doctor would do who could fish out the damn wax obstinately stuck in the ear and giving immense discomfort.